Up until now, anyone has been able to make up a number and pass it off with false identification. DHS (Department of Homeland Security) was supposed to begin going after businesses that employed people with "no match social security numbers" in September, but a law suit has temporarily blocked them from implementing the process.
Interestingly enough, one of the arguments is that Social Security records aren't accurate enough to ensure mistakes won't be made. This is probably a "no brainer" defense with all the fraud that exists with social security numbers.
Given that a lot of illegal immigrants look Hispanic, a lot of them will probably seek out legitimate identities of U.S. citizens with Hispanic surnames.
Hidden within the camoflauge that illegal immigration creates is a lot of criminal activity. When another person's identity is used to commit a crime, there is a potential that they are going to face more than financial problems after becoming a victim.
Here is a scary story -- possibly a premonition of things to come -- of a senior U.S. citizen, who obviously had his identity stolen by a criminal. The story also reveal why relying on social security numbers to identify people might lead to mistakes being made.
Eloisa Ruano Gonzalez of the Yakima Herald-Republic wrote:
It seemed like a bad dream when 72-year-old retiree Rafael "Ralph" Franco woke up to a loud pounding on his front door, opened it, and found four federal agents waiting to seize him.
The longtime Yakima resident was arrested about 6 a.m. on Nov. 28 at his South Second Street apartment. Immigration officers believed that Franco, a U.S. citizen, was an undocumented immigrant convicted of several alcohol- and weapon-related crimes.
Of course, Hispanic identities aren't the only ones used by criminals. In fact, there are more and more reports of innocent people being charged with crimes after a criminal assumes their identity, commits crimes and disappears into the mist after making bail or being released because the jail is full.
The issue of people wrongfully getting arrested because they are suspected of illegal immigration is probably only one small part of the overall problem.
Stealing personal and financial information and putting it on counterfeit documents has become an organized activity. I was recently in the Mission District of the sanctuary city of San Francisco and full sets were being offered, along with a variety of drugs for as little as $200.00. A full set is normally a drivers license, Social Security and green card.
Please note, I've personally seen this activity in other cities besides San Francisco. It's pretty much out in the open and little to nothing seems to be done about it.
Suad Leija -- the stepdaughter of the "Jefe" of an organized counterfeiting cartel --recently provided evidence to the government that counterfeiting documents is an extremely organized enterprise, which operates across the entire United States.
One of the more ironic things Suad was able to show the government was proof of her Uncle serving a prison sentence in Texas under an assumed name.
There is also considerable evidence that hackers have already stolen millions (billions?) of people's information and sell it pretty openly in anonymous Internet venues.
Put these two organized activities together and they will likely easily defeat any legislation requiring Social Security numbers to match.
I started this post with an observation about Hispanic identities being targeted, but the truth of the matter is that the 20 million or so illegal immigrants seeking legitimate identities is only one small part of a bigger problem. Even if the problem were simply related to illegal immigration -- people of Hispanic origin aren't the only ones crossing our borders illegally.
Figuring out exactly what country an illegal immigrant came from is difficult. Most of them aren't likely to reveal very many personal details. I was able to find a rather outdated study from DHS.gov that reveal some old statistics on the matter:
In October 1996, 15 countries were each the source of 40,000 or more undocumented immigrants (See Table 1). The top five countries are geographically close to the United States--Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Canada, and Haiti. Of the top 15 countries, only the Philippines, Poland, and Pakistan are outside the Western Hemisphere. The estimated undocumented population from Poland has declined by more than 25 percent, from 95,000 to 70,000, since 1988, possibly reflecting changed conditions in that country over the last several years.Sara Carter of the Washington Times did an article in August about a report she saw from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) that people of Middle Eastern/South Asian descent were posing as Hispanics. The article alleged that a partnership was being formed by something they have in common, or trafficking narcotics.
Even with NATO having boots on the ground in Afghanistan, opium production is at an all time high. Most of this is allegedly being bought by the Taliban, who now seem to operate pretty freely from the tribal areas in Pakistan.
Criminals trafficking narcotics aren't the only ones using false identities. In fact, more and more, the use of false (other people's) identities is being used to facilitate all kinds of criminal activity.
Identity theft may very become the great facilitator (enabler) of more and more crime. If criminals are able to get away with using someone else's identity, we are going to see a lot of more people victimized.
As long as we continue to consider identity theft a "low priority issue," it will continue to grow and multiply like a cancer.
The bottom line is that until we start addressing the factors that make enable stealing and using information too easy, we aren't going to fix the problem.
Doing this is going to take the cooperation of everyone from the average citizen to executive types in major corporations and our leaders in government.
Yakima Herald-Republic story, here.